The Body in Griffith Park (An Anna Blanc Mystery Book 3)

Written by Jennifer Kincheloe
Review by Ellen Keith

Working as a police matron in Los Angeles in 1908 is a far cry from Anna Blanc’s former life as an heiress, but needs must, and Anna has been disowned by her banker father for playing detective in a previous outing. In this, the third in the series, Anna chafes against the restrictions imposed on police matrons, including “do not keep company with men. Be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.” Defying these rules, she and her boyfriend, Detective Joe Singer, plan to spend a romantic evening in Griffith Park, plans that are upset by their discovery of a dead body. Anna has to sleuth on the sly as Joe pretends she was never there.

The Body in Griffith Park is full to the brim with plotlines: young women forced into prostitution, blackmail, and Anna’s introduction to her illegitimate brother. The prostitution and blackmail plots are far more believable than Anna’s instant connection to a heretofore unknown brother. Kincheloe movingly describes the sad state of affairs for female prisoners in the Los Angeles jail. Some women are there because they have nowhere else to go. Anna looks out for one such girl, Matilda, a teenager thrown out of her Iowa home who fell prey to an unscrupulous woman who prostitutes girls beholden to her. When Anna’s newfound brother becomes a suspect in the Griffith Park murder case, Anna risks her relationship with Joe to come to his defense.

Kincheloe does a fine job at capturing Anna’s enthusiasm for detecting without self-pity for her former life. At times, the plot is simply too hectic, as a side trip to Oklahoma with no repercussions for Anna’s job strains credulity. But Anna is an engaging protagonist and Joe a worthwhile suitor. I like them both enough to seek out the previous installments and look forward to the next in this series.